10 Money-Saving Tips for Your European Vacation
Traveling cheaply is not just about saving a few francs, it is really about getting a better value for your money.
- Eat like the locals and you will save big bucks. Food and drink costs add up. For breakfast, a cup of coffee, a roll, assorted cold
cuts, and a piece of fruit from the local market can be very reasonable. For lunch, try a picnic. Even in winter you may find Europeans unpacking a sandwich
in the park.
- Choose the fixed menu and the house wine. Restaurants usually offer two or three choices that highlight some of the house specialties.
- Spend the night on a train. Your long-haul transportation and accommodations are taken both care of and you gain one more day for
exploration. Bring a meal and snacks with you, since the dining car prices are often outrageous. Water is essential and will help you avoid that hangover
effect if you do not sleep well. If you decide against the sleeper-car, an inflatable neck-pillow is important.
- Buy the postcard. Instead of snapshots of the Eiffel Tower take pictures of your friends and the people you meet. Keeping the rolls
of film in a Ziploc bag will allow you to safely transport them back to the U.S. where developing costs are much less. Digital cameras are another eco- and
wallet-friendly option, as long as you have some means of recharging the battery.
- Send an email instead. At a dollar each, the cost of mailing postcards can add up. Try to get everyones email address before
you go, then at every city send a group email from an Internet café. If you are using a digital camera, you could even send that photo of you trying
to distract the Buckingham Palace guards. Its nice to receive emails from the people who write back to you as you travel.
- Try to speak the language and meet the locals. Everything can cost more than it should when you are unfamiliar with the currency,
the customs, and the language. Following the advice of locals beats following the guidebooks.
- Use your credit card and get cash at ATMs. You will get a much better exchange rate and not have to pay conversion fees.
- Buy prepaid phone cards. In Europe these are available at any market or kiosk.
- Plan your souvenir budget. The little sew-on patches, stickers, or postcards are inexpensive mementos. If you simply must have a replica
of Julius Caesars bust, remember that the further away from the Coliseum you go, the cheaper it will be.
- Get the discounted price. A student ID card can help you get the best prices on everything from museums to hotels. Joining a hostel
association is worth the small investment. In the larger cities, an inexpensive public transportation ticket will allow you to enjoy the tour at your own